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5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of AWS re:Invent 2015

This year brings the 4th iteration of AWS re:Invent . For a company known for rapid iteration, this annual conference is the manifestation of that philosophy.

Cloudability has a fantastic infographic up explaining the increase in scale over the years but even that graphic doesn’t really capture the scale and excitement of the event.

Simply put, October 6–9th is going to be a crazy week in Las Vegas for anyone remotely interested in where IT services are heading. By any metric or opinion , AWS is the undisputed leader in cloud computing and re:Invent is their annual stake in the ground. Inevitably the week will hold some surprises, a lot of new features, and a slew of great talks & conversations.

I’ve been lucky enough to attend the previous re:Invents as a speaker and here are my tips for getting the most out of the whirlwind that is re:Invent.

Bootcamps

If you were quick enough with your click, you might have gotten into a bootcamp. There are still some seats available in the camps and on the waitlist. If you’re remotely interested, I suggest you login to the registration portal and sign up now.

Certifications

In additional to the technical bootcamps, there are a number of certification prep camps (which are still quite technical!). AWS also has a testing centre on site.

You can sign up and take your exam before the conference kicks into high gear. It’s a nice way to start your week off with a personal win.

There are also preparation camps on the Monday and Tuesday that still have availability. The camps are 1/2 or full day (depending on the exam level) and are a great way to get a leg up before the exam.

Hansel is so hot right now

AWS (and Hansel) is so hot right now. Certification is a nice boost on your résumé/CV.

Sessions

The session catalog has been published and it’s chalk full of fantastic sessions [full disclosure; I’m giving a talk again this year, DVO207, “Defending Your Workloads Against the Next Zero Day”].

The tracks are;

  • Architecture (ARC)
  • Big Data & Analytics (BDT)
  • Compute (CMP)
  • Databases (DAT)
  • Developer Tools (DEV)
  • DevOps (DVO)
  • Gaming (GAM)
  • IT Strategy & Migration (ISM)
  • Mobile Developer & IoT (MBL)
  • Networking (NET)
  • Security & Compliance (SEC)
  • Spotlight (SPOT)
  • Storage Content & Delivery (STG)

Each of these tracks has content across the introductory (200), advanced (300), and expert (400) levels.

The session builder lets you plan out which talks you’d like to go to by adding them to your schedule. This is a good way to keep track of all of the sessions that you’re interested in.

Remember that this doesn’t guarantee you a spot in the session.

It’s also important to remember that almost all of the talks from re:Invent will be made available on the AWS YouTube channel about 2–3 weeks after the show.

AWS re:Invent Central a/k/a The Expo Hall

[Full disclosure, I’m the VP of Cloud Research at Trend Micro which is a diamond sponsor of the show. We’re at booth 1004 this year]

I’m in a glass case of emotion

The booth (1004) is going to be a lot of fun BUT not quite this dramatic

Walking through the expo hall at a conference can be hit or miss. There’s a lot of companies there trying to make a splash, some pushing hard to sell, some just trying to help, and all the combinations there-in.

Regardless of your stance on vendor expo presence, it’s worth going to the expo hall at re:Invent if solely to visit AWS’ “booth”.

Every year, AWS staffs their booth with members of the product teams and key technical field staff. This is a great opportunity to speak directly with the people who makes these fantastic services.

This is one of the major benefits of attending re:Invent. Be sure to take full advantage.

re:Play

Over the past few years, I’ve attended a lot of conferences. The after hours activities are usually hit or miss. re:Invent’s re:Play party is quickly approaching legendary status.

Every year they bring is a big name musical artist. We’ve seen Skrillex, Deadmaus, and others on the stage. It’s a mystery who will play on Thursday night this year but no doubt that Werner and team have booked someone epic.

Elmo and Jimmy Fallon dancing on the set of Jimmy’s TV show

re:Play is the place to be Thursday night

More importantly, the part is very welcoming. There’s a mix of food and snacks (candy bar bar, meta & delicious) and a lot of fun activities (classic arcade games, laser frenzy, drone flying, etc.) so there’s never a dull moment.

There’s always a ton of things happening in Vegas but this party is a really unique event and definitely one not to miss. The party is the highlight of a great re:Invent after hours schedule.

Attendees

We walked through the major events at the show but it’s important to mention that the other attendees are also a major show highlight.

This is an event where it’s not odd to sit down in the hall with your laptop to start building something amazing. Of course, it’s more comfortable in the AWS Developer Lounge (they usually have bean bag chairs) but that usually fills up quickly.

Nearly everyone at this show is building something cool in the cloud. The tone of the show is very friendly and welcome so there’s no reason not to stop and talk to other folks at the show.

Be sure to stop and talk to someone you don’t know.

If you need an ice breaker, there’s always a ton of cool stuff announced at the keynotes and a lot of attendees are active on Twitter (where I’m @marknca and the event hashtag is #reinvent).

Exciting Times

There’s plenty of reasons to be excited about this year’s re:Invent. There is so much going on that it’s hard to go wrong. Remember these 5 keys;

  1. If you’re arriving early, take a certification exam on site (book ahead!) and start the week with a personal win
  2. Build out your schedule using the session catalog remembering that it doesn’t guarantee you a spot, arrive early to each session!
  3. Come by the expo hall (AWS re:Invent Central) and talk to people at the booths, especially the AWS engineers and architects
  4. Go to the re:Play party
  5. Above all be sure to stop and talk to someone you don’t know!

Anchorman team group cheer

re:Invent will be here before you know it. If you’re on site in Las Vegas, make sure to say hi you see me in the halls.

If you’re following the show online, I’ll be broadcasting regularly on Periscope to share part of the experience with you. Look for my tweets — I’m @marknca — throughout the show. If you have any questions, mention me with the tag #OnTheFly and I’d be happy to track down an answer for you at the show.

See you in Vegas!